Ask a Cop: Are Utah schools safe?

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SALT LAKE CITY — Are Utah schools safe?

This is a hard question to answer without knowing the details of every school's security plans and responses to threats. Unfortunately, most school response plans I have seen involve notifications from police and then to lock down the school. What if an assailant is already in the school?

I remember going to a few schools and offering to assist in setting up a plan and evaluating their grounds to better defend against a possible mass shooter. I was told that they didn't want to do that as it could cause alarm or make students feel less safe. They would advise that they had plans in place but did not want to convey them to police or involve us so we could coordinate responses. Don't ask me why.


If I respond as a private citizen in regards to my own children, I have no idea what my elementary school does or offers to keep my children safe. I know there are no elementary school police officers who are staffed full-time. Would that be the best solution? Should we raise taxes so every school can support a full-time officer? I know I'm going to take a more active role in expressing my concerns to my school board.

I personally would like to see changes in the design and function of the schools. I think all schools should be in a locked-down state. I think if an intruder gains access to a school or there is gunfire that each classroom should be locked down with an exterior exit so the teacher could decide whether to rapidly exit the school with their kids or stay. The doors to all the classrooms should be strong enough to resist firearms or force. The gunman could wander the halls until police got there.

Teachers should be trained to not only teach but also to respond to the various threats that face our children when we put them in their care. If that means giving them a raise, so be it. I'm sure the parents in Connecticut would pay any amount to ensure their children's safety.

I walked into my child's elementary school to pick up my child from kindergarten and was worried that I could walk right in without being confronted or identified by anyone. I half expected to be buzzed in and asked where I was going as soon as I got through the door. I would not have thought twice about that. I think that should be instituted at the least.

The amount of child casualties from the Connecticut shooting is too much to bear. It's time for us to make some changes and stop talking about it.

People always tend to remark, “Well this type of thing (a mass shooting) rarely happens. It's more likely that there will be an earthquake or fire.” I'm tired of that response when we have individuals indiscriminately shooting small children. The amount of child casualties from the Connecticut shooting is too much to bear. It's time for us to make some changes and stop talking about it.

The solution is not to ban guns. This type of discussion gets us nowhere. We need to stop mentioning the names of the suspects — ever. They should be given a number as an identifier and never show their face. We need to evaluate every place where large amounts of people congregate, work, schools, etc., and have plans in place. Like I have said many times before, most people know what to do in case of fire or earthquake, but do we know what to do when some evil person decides to kill a bunch of people and then themselves?

Should all buildings and public areas be required to have a plan in place in case of a mass shooting event? Should safe rooms be provided just like nuclear fallout shelters back in the ’50s?

Ask a Cop:

What do police departments do? We get the report of an active shooter and hurry as fast as we can to the scene and start going into the building in teams, if we can, to stop the threat so no further killings can occur. Unfortunately, by the time we get the call it can be too late. The best is when a vigilant citizen observes suspicious behavior and calls it in so we can stop the person before he can do anything.

I know that every cop in this state would help in anyway they could to make schools safer and offer whatever expertise they had. We are here waiting to help in anyway we can. If you don't want to expose your kid to those thoughts and shelter them from the violence, stop letting them watch violent movies and play Call of Duty. This is real life, and it's happening all the time.

I would like to read your suggestions on how we can make schools safer in this state besides barbed wire and gun ports. Either post them in the comments or send me an email,

We in law enforcement are always looking for good ideas and hopefully a few will get to the administrators of the various school systems.

This article is for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. I do not represent any specific agency or government. Please send questions to

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